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Discovering Pampanga: Six Homegrown Kapangpangan Restaurants You Must Try!

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“Food is our common ground. A universal experience.” -James Beard

Pampanga is known to be the gastronomic and culinary capital of the Philippines. With an array of delectable homegrown restaurants and authentic Kapampangan dishes that is rivaled nowhere else in the country, you are guaranteed an incredible and epic food journey when you have the chance to visit. However, not all of their epicurean offers are the same; some are more authentic than the others and some dishes would be more delectable when they are prepared by the innovators themselves. So, if you have a weekend planned in Pampanga—whether to visit the Sandbox in Porac, Pampanga Alviera, here are some of the best homegrown restaurants with dishes you can sink your teeth into:

1.) Binulo Restaurant- Clarkfield

This restaurant got its moniker from the Aeta method of cooking food in fresh bamboo. Known as one of the only restaurants to prepare food this way, Binulo is popularly known for serving diners only the best and authentic Campangpangan cuisine. To complement their array of local dishes, US grilled steaks are also on the menu. If you have a hankering for good home-cooked food, Binulo is the best place to go. Finish your meal with their excellent dessert of Suman and Mango ice cream which doubles as an ideal snack on a hot summer day.

2.) Historic Camalig Restaurant

If you have a penchant for trying a lot of Capangpangan dishes at once, then head on over to Historic Camalig Restaurant. Established on a century old ancestral grain depot restored in 1980, Camalig is now a restaurant that serves the famous Kapangpangan Pizza. The ambiance and good food would all be worth the long trip. For those who love to indulge themselves, the restaurant offers a Kapangpangan buffet as well.

3.) Angeles Fried Chicken

Known to be the Philippines’ counterpart and rendition to United States’ friend chicken joint, AFC or Angeles Fried Chicken is the restaurant for fried chicken lovers. Known to be one of the most popular restaurants in the city, their chicken has been perfected to be succulent and juicy at the same time. The recipe has remained largely unchanged and has been passed down from generation to generation.

4.) Everybody’s Cafe

No trip to Pampanga is ever complete without stopping over and having a meal at Everybody’s cafe. As the name itself suggests, the restaurant is just about for anyone and has some of the most exotic things in their menu. Unlike your typical cafeteria, you can find things such as betute (stuffed frogs) and camaru (crickets) on the menu which is perfect for those who are looking for a bit of a culinary dining adventure. Known to be one of the longest running restaurants in the city, this cafeteria has a lot of local dishes visitors should sample—from the Damulag (cured carabao meat) to the crispy duck adobo.

5.) Rainforest Kichene

If you are looking for a restaurant with a bit of an ambiance, head over to Rainforest Kichene in San Fernando. Owned by Chef Vince Garcia, the restaurant presents a subtle charm of forest-inspired ambiance that makes it not only inviting to eat but hang out as well. Largely inspired by a healthy and green eating lifestyle, some of the items on the menu are perfect for fitness buffs and sports enthusiasts looking to eat healthier.

6.) Susie’s Cuisine

Of course, a trip to the culinary capital deserves a souvenir and a treat which you can bring back home to share with your friends and family. If you are on the search for delectable kakanins and different Kapangpangan dishes which you can later feast on or give to family and friends, then visit Susie’s Cuisine. Although the restaurant is popularly known for its pancit lug lug, it has become the go-to place for people looking for something to bring home to their families.

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The Top Five Restaurants You Should Try in Circuit Makati

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“A restaurant is a fantasy—a kind of living fantasy in which diners are the most important members of the cast.” -Warner LeRoy

 

Circuit Makati may be quite new to the entertainment development scene, but since its inception, it has already been making waves. This 21-hectare property used to be the former Sta. Ana Racetrack property of the Philippine Racing Club Inc. and is now a mixed-use development land. Today, Circuit Makati is known to be one of the famous and most happening entertainment districts in the metropolis. It is poised as the unequivocal destination for all things entertainment. It features multipurpose entertainment spaces, open grounds, and an indoor theater. Indeed, even if Circuit Makati has not been around for quite too long, it has already made an impression on locals and has cemented its claim to fame by being the go-to venue for fun and entertainment.

Among the myriad of activities, you can do in Circuit Makati are attending hot music festivals and skateboarding in the skateboard park, doing sports related activities on the football pitch or go for a go-kart ride. With the array of things you can do in the entertainment hub, it would be no question for it to come armed with its own arsenal of excellent restaurants. If you ever have the chance to visit Circuit Makati, here are some of the best restaurants you should try:

1.) Palm Corned Beef Corner

What could possibly be better than corned beef for breakfast? Well, corned beef for lunch and dinner as well! It is a well-known fact that corned beef is one of the breakfast staples in a Filipino home. In fact, it is the favorite breakfast food of many—a fact which Palm Corned Beef decided to capitalize on. Considering that it is one of the leading corned beef brands in the country, Palm Corned Beef decided open their own restaurant which can be found in Circuit Makati. Apart from the New Zealand corned beef, you can enjoy a lot of food items from their menu.

2.) Mudpie Heaven

Dessert connoisseurs will rejoice—particularly those who are incredibly fond of chocolates. Mudpie Heaven is the physical manifestation of an ode to the thirty-year-old recipes of the owner’s (Ashley Cayuca) mom. Of course, this place serves more than just desserts. Known for their extensive menu of reinvented Filipino-American comfort food, this restaurant is a must try for food enthusiasts with an insatiable palate for food fusions. If you get the chance to visit, remember to make room for their rich desserts as their signature Mud Pie ice cream cakes are a definite must-try!

3.) OnBoard Game + Gastro Pub

This restaurant, as the name suggests, is a fusion of a board game center and a pub. This straightforward concept promises a full-service kitchen that would serve craft beers, comfort food, and specialty cocktails among others. Patrons can play a wide array of board game titles that would suit all ages and preferences while waiting for their food. A pretty nifty concept so as to keep your diners entertained while their food cooks.

4.) Backyard Kitchen + Brew

If comfort food is your thing, then you might want to try a contemporary rendition of it at Backyard Kitchen + Brew. Owned by Chef Edward Bugia of Pino, this far-to-table bar and grill concept serves modern comfort food with a little twist. Of course, indulgent drinkers with a unique taste for liquor are not left behind either as they serve a wide selection of craft beers and beverages.

5.) Outre Manila

Ice cream and dessert enthusiasts have something to rejoice about—especially since hand-crafted liquid nitrogen is now readily available in Circuit Makati. Although Outre Manila traced its roots back in BF Homes, it has now expanded to cater to a wider market and is newly opened in Circuit Makati. If you have a hankering for complicated and unusual desserts or simply just love ice cream and gelato, then this place is for you. Alternatively, those who are ravenous can get hot meals in this restaurant as well.

 

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Four Interesting Facts About the Philippines

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“For once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” -Leonardo Da Vinci

The Philippines has been long hailed as one of the most exotic Southeast Asian destinations of the world. This country whose pride resides upon their crystal clear blue waters, powdery white sand beaches, and majestic landscapes is not only a place with a myriad of picturesque vacation spots, but it is also known as a melting pot for a variety of cultures. The tropical climate of the country makes it a premier spot for diverse activities. In fact, outdoor activities in the Philippines could rival those of their western counterparts.

Philippine history would be easy, to sum up. You have the initial settlers in the archipelago with many various countries vying to subdue them and claim the country as a colony. And though the country has been embroiled in several colonizations in the past, its people have battled for independence, and as a result, they have learned to develop a sense of culture and tradition they can proudly and distinctly call their own. Indeed, there are a lot if interesting things that truly make this country beautifully unique. So if you are visiting the Philippines anytime soon, here are some facts you might want to know:

1.) The national flag can be used to symbolize war or peace.

The Philippine flag is a combination of four colors, namely: white, blue, red and yellow. Sewn by three ladies (Lorenza Agoncillo, Delfina Herbosa de Natividad, and Marcela de Agoncillo) in Hong Kong, it made its debut during the battle on May 28, 1898. What makes the flag unique is the fact that it can be meant to symbolize war or peace. In times of war, the flag is inverted to show the red stripe on top, and during times of peace, the blue stripe takes the upper part.

2.) Three of the largest malls are in the Philippines

Filipinos love to shop no doubt, and mall developers are only happy to cater to the local’s penchant. In fact, the country’s capital has a mall in almost every nook and cranny which Filipinos would love to spend time in during their downtime. For this reason, it would be no surprise that the Philippines hosts three of the world’s largest malls namely SM Megamall (third largest mall in the world), SM City North EDSA and SM Mall of Asia (fourth and tenth largest mall respectively)

3.) Super Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest wind ever recorded at landfall

In November 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan wreaked havoc in the central part of the Philippines which killed at least six thousand people and injured a lot more. The deadly typhoon left the country devastated, but what occurred months after was a true testament to the Filipinos resilience. Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm recorded at landfall, so much so that PAGASA decided to erase the name from the typhoon naming lists. In the same vein, the ESCAP/WMO Typhoon Committee likewise announced that the name would be replaced with Bailu instead.

4.) Three of the largest pearls were found in the Philippines

Considering that the Philippines is rich in marine life, it would be no wonder that three of the world’s biggest pearls would be found here. The largest pearl in the world called The Pearl of Lao Tzu was discovered in Brookes Point, Palawan by a Filipino diver in the year 1934. The Palawan Princess who is considered the second largest pearl in the world was also found on Palawan island. Lastly, the Pearl of the King (which is said to be bigger than the Pearl of Lao Tzu) was discovered in the Philippine waters.

 

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Summer 2017: Top Getaway Destinations Near Manila

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“Looking at the beauty in the world, the first step of purifying the mind” -Amit Ray (Meditation: Insights and Inspirations)

As March enters 2017, so does the promise of a scorching summer to come. Gone are the cold and breezy days replaced by humid morning temperatures with equally hot nights. On the months ahead, we will be bidding our sweaters and long-sleeved tops goodbye and saying hello to cropped tops, bikinis, the distinct smell of the beach and our favorite pair of aviators. Indeed, as for March ushers in a new season, everyone will be welcoming in the happiest and sunniest season of the year, summer. This is the season most individuals would love to get away from the perpetual hustle and bustle of the city and experience the calm and quiet of the countryside or the vibrant life at the beach. Unfortunately, if you are operating on a tight schedule, it can be hard to negotiate a vacation in between your work commitments.

Not to fret, however, as there are a lot of destinations near Manila that would not even require an overnight trip. So, if you are planning for a summer excursion, there is no need to look far, here are the weekend getaways near Manila you can visit for a short and brief holiday:

1.) Minalungao National Park (Nueva Ecija)

Take a break from the usual crystal blue waters and enjoy something a little bit different such as the emerald green waters of Penaranda River in Minalungao National Park. As the summertime draws in, it is the perfect time to visit this place. Owing to the less rainfall of the season, the river is calmer and clearer making it safer for rafting, cliff jumping and even swimming. If trekking is more of your thing, the 16-meter limestone walls flanking the river are as equally inviting as the river is. If a quick trip is on your weekend itinerary, Minalungao is easily accessible with only a 3-hour ride from Manila, and it is friendly to your pockets as well.

2.) Taal Heritage Town

If you are looking for the feel and ambiance of Vigan without having to book a plane ticket or driving for seven hours, then all you would need to do is head to Batangas. The beautiful ancestral homes and gorgeous architecture of Tall Heritage Town in Batangas are reminiscent of Vigan and would take you back to a place you can only see in history books and black and white albums. It is easy to get charmed by the place’s hundred-year-old knickknacks and vintage pieces that you would not only get a well-deserved break but a trip back in time as well.

3.) Corregidor

History buff and enthusiasts would enjoy Corregidor as it is the perfect place for a slice of culture and history. This province in Cavite has diverse activities to offer, but its main attraction is definitely the rich and colorful history from World War II. But apart from that, Corregidor has pristine nature trails, its own beach, and wildlife. Lastly, it is not that far from Manila (only an hour away by boat). If you are looking for a bit of history with a little culture in solitude thrown into the mix, this place is perfect for you.

4.) Baler

Though it is not exactly what you would call near (driving to Baler would take you a few extra hours), it would all be a matter of perspective once you arrive and set foot and Baler where a myriad of activities awaits you. To surfers and trekking enthusiasts, this place is paradise, and for someone looking for the perfect synergy of nature, culture, history and adventure, this place is the ultimate escapade. If you are looking for an unlimited array of activities to do in such a short time, Baler should be your top pick.

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Top Things to do In the Philippines this Summer

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The summer heat is definitely on.

This is the season where people sweat a bit more profusely in the afternoons, dress a little too lightly or a bit less than they used to, feast on cold fizzy drinks or cold food and frequent the beach more often. It should be no surprise to you if you see your co-workers waltz into their cubicles sporting a brand new tan. It is, after all, the summer season—that one season wherein people could not help but be ambivalent whether they are thankful for the summer heat, or are seething about it. However, they would all agree that this is the best season to enjoy the best outdoor activities in the country as no other season would offer you this equal opportunity of basking in the sun and enjoying the various outdoor activities.

So if you are planning an epic summer getaway, do not book your tickets for abroad just yet and enjoy the multitude of summer events you and your family or friends can enjoy this season all within the Philippines. Get your pen and paper at the ready and be sure to include some of the most epic adventures you are about to have as we have listed down below.

1.) GO SEE SOME SITES

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Without a doubt, the Philippines is teeming with lush wild forests, tropical beaches and scenic sights—all of which you can behold from different areas of the archipelago, or even from the comforts of your own home. Do a bit of research about your local area and discover which tourist spots have newly cropped up or you have neglected to check out over the years and visit that particular place. If you have likely discovered most of the scenic sites and tried all the things there is to do in your local area, go discover some of the local tourist spots in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and translate to real life what you have seen and researched.

2.) VISIT SOME OF THE COUNTRY’S FAMOUS BEACHES

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The Philippines is very well known for being a tropical paradise filled to the brim with a multitude of white sand beaches with a plethora of marine life within them. And they are all waiting for you to discover them. Cool yourself off from the summer heat and book a trip to the nearest place with the best beaches and immerse yourself in the sights and soak your feet in saltwater and bury them in white powdery sand. Some places that offer you an array of beautiful and scenic beaches are: Boracay Island, Aklan, Palawan, El Nido, and Puerto Galera.

3.) ENGAGE IN A FAVORITE OUTDOOR ACTIVITY

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Summer is the best time of the year to engage in outdoor activities and fortunately for us, the Philippines plays host to a multitude of diverse activities. Different local destinations have their own corresponding activities: You can have a few rounds of gold in the various golf courses around the country, swim with the gentle giants known as whale sharks in Cebu, go surfing in Baler, Aurora, go trekking in Mt.Apo—the possibilities are endless and this is the best time to try some of them.

4.) GO DIVING

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Seeing as the Philippines plays host to a rich and abundant marine life, it is no question that we would be considered as Asia’s Dive Capital. Whether you are a novice or a professional or just an individual looking for a little underwater adventure, discover the country’s best diving spots that hold a prolific and expansive collection of marine creatures. Visit some of the country’s known and best dive spots such as Anilao, Puerto Galera and Boracay for an underwater experience you truly will not forget.

5.) REDISCOVER YOUR HOMETOWN AND SEE IT IN A NEW LIGHT

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More often than not, we have neglected to discover and appreciate all the natural wonders our hometowns have to offer us. This is largely attributed to the fact that we are all leading perpetually busy lives that we have forgotten or overlooked the fact that we have a superfluity of activities to do just around us. This summer season, rediscover or discover them all and give yourself a treat by immersing yourself in the local wonders of your hometown.

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Tourist Spots You Should Never Fail to Visit When In Laguna

 

 

A brand new year has just commenced and predictably, some of you may have travel itineraries for the year ahead. For those of you deciding to explore local wonders, you will be pleased to know that our country hosts an abundance of vacation spots and places to visit. The Philippines plays host to many wonderful tourist destinations which local and foreign visitors flock to regularly and if you are a local who has not yet searched every nook and cranny the Philippines has to offer then maybe this is the year you should start listing them on your travel list.

One of the most frequented local destination is Laguna, Philippines. The place is a cornucopia of tourist spots and is basically a food connoisseur’s favorite spot to gorge on local food. Just ask anyone residing near the country’s capital and you would soon find out why a lot of locals and foreigners would be found clustered in this area. Undoubtedly, Laguna Philippines is teeming with tourist attractions for adventurers and nature lovers alike.

However, for those of you who have never set foot in Laguna, you might be at a loss as to how to plot your Laguna vacation. Well, whether it may be a day trip or a weekend getaway in the Philippines, one thing is for sure, you are guaranteed to enjoy Laguna. So if you have plotted Laguna as your next area of destination, never fail to visit these various tourist spots that are definitive of the place.

RIZAL SHRINE

Any self-respecting Filipino citizen should know that their national hero’s hometown and birthplace is in Calamba, Laguna which is why a quick visit to pay homage to Jose Rizal’s shrine should be in order. The Jose Rizal Shrine is one of the tourist sites in Laguna teeming with people, and it is worthy to note that for a place that holds so much history, it has been preserved well. Visit this place when in Laguna and see for yourself the house which molded and shaped the boy that would soon become the country’s national hero.

SPLASH ISLAND

For the water babies, Splash Island is the best place for you. Located in Biñan, Laguna, Splash Island remains unchallenged when it comes to being the largest water park in the Philippines. Equipped with countless water slides, various rides for both the kids and the kids at heart, Splash Island is the perfect place to visit for an occasion with friends or with family. Visit Splash Island and everyone will be guaranteed fun and amusement and be prepared in exploring diverse slides of different sizes and angles.

MOUNT MAKILING

For nature lovers, adventurers and hiking enthusiasts alike Mount Makiling is the place to be. Named after a mystical dweller and protector, Maria Makiling, this mountain in Laguna is a legendary inactive volcano. For those of you seeking a day adventure of would just like to bask yourself in the midst of nature, this mountain is ideal for camping, trekking, bird watching and mountain biking.

NAGCARLAN UNDERGROUND CEMETERY

 

 

One of Laguna’s interesting and unique tourist spots is Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery. A definitive feature of the tourist spot is the burial site located inside or more accurately put, beneath a church. It is unique as it is the only one of its kind in the Philippines and is considered a historical landmark as its underground crypt was used as meeting place in the year 1986 by the Katipuneros or by the Filipino revolutionaries.

PAGSANJAN FALLS

 

 

Undoubtedly, Pagsanjan Falls is Laguna’s pride when it comes to famous natural attractions. For those of you visiting Laguna for the first time, this is one place you should never miss. Rent a small boat that would take you to the falls or “shoot the rapids”. From there, skilled and accredited boatmen will assist you and take you in an idyllic and scenic boat ride in Magdapio River before reaching the main falls.

NATIONAL ARTS CENTER

 

 

For aspiring artists, the National Arts Center should be one of your initial stops when in Laguna. Situated in Mt. Makiling, Los Baños, Laguna, the NAC is a hub for aspiring young artists. Incidentally, a boarding school for artistically gifted Filipino secondary school students can be found here. For those seeking tourist attractions, the NAC serves as a great vantage point in perusing Laguna de Bay, Crocodile Lake, Talim Island and the surrounding towns of Laguna.